She started joking about "balls" and how women shouldn't be afraid of them or put them on a pedestal. Men have them, literally and figuratively. The word evokes a certain power. "Wow, that was ballsy," uttered about a guy climbing his way up the corporate latter. "That took some BALLS," appreciately murmured when a man takes a risk and comes up ahead. Et cetera.
And we started to wonder: why can't women achieve "ballsy" status too? Why can't we channel our own inner ladyballs? Sometimes assertive women are derided for "wearing the pants in the relationship," either at home and/or at work. Or when deemed "ballsy," the underlying reference means power hungry bitch, man-hater, child-hater (if she chooses to not have children). Or worse.
But how about every-day women like you and me? Why can't we shake our little ladyballs too - and be applauded for it?
We batted that notion back and forth until before you knew it, we couldn't stop. Through snorts of laughter and doubled-over giggles, we formed the idea for "ladyballs.com."
How do you like your ladyballs? Click on a link to "Create your Balls." What is your personality type? Describe yourself in one word. What colors do you like? Are you a glitter girl, a glam girl, a tomboy? A petite, sophisticated efficient worker by day….and leather-clad, spiked heels extrovert by night? Are you a hippie - patchouli girl with a secret penchant for mary janes and red lipstick and tailored peplum dresses?
And on we went. Users could create textures, sizes, personalities for their balls. You name it. Choose from xs, small, medium, large or x-large. But the underlying point would be: release your inner lady balls and let them clang. Stand up for yourself , speak your mind , go out and start to achieve your goals, whether real or imagined, spoken or whispered.
Our ladyball hunters would click through the website, watching their glorious balls unfold before them. Make payment, then wait for them to arrive. In an efficient looking box, with tissue or wrappings appropriate to the personality of your balls. Once you receive them in the mail, whether they be fuzzy pink and black dice to hang from your rear view mirror, or delicate silver marbles to carry in your purse, they are yours. A symbol of your new voice and your real self.
Ladyballs can be as different from each other as two women sharing a conversation over coffee or a cubicle at work. Ladyballs can be as creative as you want them to be. You like spikes? Done. Little rhinestone spikes adorn the outside of your balls. How about a disco ball, for all the party girls out there? Check. Your own personal Studio 54 disco balls that dazzle in the sunlight. Are you more of a Sporty Spice? How about camoflauge golf balls to keep on your key chain?
My old friend wanted to patent the idea, start a website. "Ladyballs. We dare you to let them clang." We saw the possibilities for a funny, play-on-words metaphor to become a symbol of autonomy. A way for women to reclaim (or find for the first time) a voice as their mythical "balls" descended down. Ladyballs wouldn't give women an excuse to be bitchy, cold, or reckless; rather, they would help develop confidence and momentum to take ownership of their lives.
Ladyballs is not a new concept, clever as we felt that afternoon. Glamour magazine knows about them (Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton made the cut in the magazine's 10 Ladies With Balls article), and I found several blog posts that referenced the term. (I just searched). That doesn't mean I can't claim it for what it began to represent to me. Writing my book, turning 40, trying to remember what I want to do when I grow up. If there was ever a time to grab my ladyballs, it's now.
Unfortunatly I lost touch with my ladyball co-creator, but the idea still stuck. Fast-forward to two years ago, out with two of my dear friends. Kate lives in the valley but is crazy busy with her three sports-loving, talented little kids. We always want to catch up but rarely do. Maja moved back to her home country Iceland after living in Arizona for 12 years. We all met in a mom's group 10 years ago when our firstborns were babies, and developed life-line friendships through those insane years of toddlers and babies, snot and barf, playdates and tantrums.
Maja visits Arizona a few times a year for business. When she's here, we always got together. Traditionally, we close down restaurants and talk outside for hours , none of us wanting to leave. On this night, after several glasses of wine, I brought up ladyballs while we stood under a streetlight on the sidewalk.
Little did I expect the reaction. Katie almost fell over; I could almost see the creative wheels turning in Maja's brain.
"What do your balls smell like?"
"What are they made of? Are they, soft, hard, squishy, cold?"
Doubled over in laughter.
"Are they huge or tiny? Do they clang ? Do they sparkle when they hit each other?"
"Bumper sticker! 'Got ladyballs?'"
Back and forth we went, the ideas getting more and more ludicrous and specific as we started to buzz off each other. As women who devoted big chunks of our lives to being stay-at-home moms, now with new opportunities now ahead of us, the idea resonated. And stuck.
Last year on Maja's yearly visit, the three of us went up north near Flagstaff for wine tasting and a night at a cozy cabin. We talked the whole drive up from Phoenix, at the winery, in sweatpants under blankets at the cabin. Brandishing our glasses of wine, we revisited ladyballs. And damn if the idea didn't morph even more, entirely on its own, in the space of a year.
I watched Katie literally fall off the couch, she laughed so hard. Maja introduced the idea of creating lady balls for each other, based on how well we knew each other.
The verdict? Mine were shaped like stars, shiny and positive and full of light. A little timid, but lovely, with potential for brillance and a deeper color as they descended and grew. Feisty Katie's fireballs would be red and sparkly, not afraid to spark when clanged together. Actual fire covered them when she needed to really turn it on. And Maja? Our Viking goddess-designer's silver, thin, modern triangles moved in every direction and emanated a quiet, soothing "hum" when they really started to buzz. Opaque, effervescent, creative.
We greeted the sun that morning, unwilling to part with our ladyball conversation long enough to go to sleep. Ladyballs had brought us closer together. We left humming with possibility and the glow you get when your ladyballs resonate with others around you in harmony instead of competition.
That's one thing I forgot to say about ladyballs. The number one rule of ladyballing: you do not compete with other ladyballs. You rejoice in the differences and celebrate the similarites. And ultimately, you encourage them to grow and make noise.
Clang those balls, ladies. And enjoy the ride.